35 OF THE MOST INSPIRING MICHELLE OBAMA QUOTES

Becoming cover imageMichelle Obama’s debut memoir, Becoming, quickly became the Bestselling Book of 2018 despite being released mid-November. But honestly, did we expect anything less? A lady of endless class and courage, Becoming is 400 pages of fridge magnet-worthy quotes. But that’s been the case since she entered the public realm a decade ago.  Here is a collection of the best Michelle Obama quotes over the years. Also check out this list of recommended reads if you enjoyed Becoming!

MICHELLE OBAMA QUOTES FROM BECOMING

“Now that I’m an adult, I realize that kids know at a very young age when they’re being devalued, when adults aren’t invested enough to help them learn. Their anger over it can manifest itself as unruliness. It’s hardly their fault. They aren’t ‘bad kids.’ They’re just trying to survive bad circumstances.”

“Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt and then is escalated, often deliberately, by fear.”

“I’ve been lucky enough now in my life to meet all sorts of extraordinary and accomplished people…Some (though not enough) of them are women. Some (though not enough) are black or of color. Some were born poor or have lived lives that to many of us would appear to have been unfairly heaped with adversity…What I’ve learned is this: All of them have had doubters. Some continue to have roaring, stadium-sized collections of critics and naysayers who will shout ‘I told you so’ at every little misstep or mistake. The noise doesn’t go away, but the most successful people I know have figured out how to live with it.”

“This may be the fundamental problem with caring a lot about what others think: It can put you on the established path—the my-isn’t-that-impressive path—and keep you there for a long time.”

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s the power of using your voice. I tried my best to speak the truth and shed light on the stories of people who are often brushed aside.”

“Am I good enough? Yes I am.”

MICHELLE OBAMA QUOTES FROM VARIOUS SPEECHES

“Whether you come from a council estate or a country estate, your success will be determined by your own confidence and fortitude.” —G20 Summit, 2009

“Don’t ever make decisions based on fear. Make decisions based on hope and possibility. Make decisions based on what should happen, not what shouldn’t.” —Campaign trail in Phoenix, 2008

“I have learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values—and follow my own moral compass—then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own.” —Tuskegee University commencement, 2015

“Walk away from friendships that make you feel small and insecure, and seek out people who inspire you and support you.”

“Success is only meaningful and enjoyable if it feels like your own.” —Oregon State University commencement address, 2012

“You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.” —City College of New York commencement, 2016

“Instead of letting your hardships and failures discourage or exhaust you, let them inspire you. Let them make you even hungrier to succeed.” —King College Prep Commencement Address, 2015

“You may not always have a comfortable life. And you will not always be able to solve all the world’s problems at once. But don’t ever underestimate the impact you can have, because history has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own.” —Young African Women Leaders Forum, 2011

“Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” —Democratic National Convention, 2012

“The one way to get me to work my hardest was to doubt me.” —International Girls Day, 2016

“Just try new things. Don’t be afraid. Step out of your comfort zones and soar.” —Howard University speech, 2016

“Failure is an important part of your growth and developing resilience. Don’t be afraid to fail.” —Speech at Apollo Theater, 2015

“Just do what works for you because there will always be someone who thinks differently.”

“Choose people who will lift you up. Find people who will make you better.” —ABC News interview, 2011

“Reach for partners that make you better. Do not bring people into your life who weigh you down. Good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don’t hurt.” —Address to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson students

“Let’s just be clear, you don’t want to be with a boy who’s too stupid to know and appreciate a smart young lady.” —Speech at Apollo Theater, 2015

“Young people, don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered. Empower yourselves with a good education…then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise.” —Final speech as First Lady, 2017

“Here in America we don’t let our differences tear us apart. Here in America we don’t give in to our fears. We don’t build walls to keep people out.” —City of College of New York commencement, 2016

“There are still many causes worth sacrificing for, so much history yet to be made.”  —Young African Women Leaders Forum, 2011

“Every day, you have the power to choose our better history—by opening your hearts and minds, by speaking up for what you know is right.” —Topeka School District Senior Recognition Day, 2014

“The difference between a broken community and a thriving one is the presence of women who are valued.” —State Department Women of Courage Awards, 2009

“You don’t have to be somebody different to be important. You are important in your own right.” —Let Girls Learn trip, 2016

“Every girl, no matter where she lives, deserve the opportunity to develop the promise inside of her.” —Let Girls Learn trip to London, 2015

“No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half its citizens.” —Mandela Washington Fellowship address, 2014

“We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.” —via Vogue magazine

“When it comes to mental health conditions, we often treat them differently from other diseases like cancer, diabetes or asthma. Whether an illness affects your heart, your leg or your brain, it’s still an illness, and there should be no distinction.” —Change Direction campaign speech, 2015

“It’s time to tell everyone who’s dealing with a mental health issue that they’re not alone, and that getting support and treatment isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.” —Change Direction campaign speech, 2015

And, lastly, my personal fave:

“When someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is, when they go low, we go high.” —Democratic National Convention, 2016

Also, just for fun, let’s throw some (unintentional) shade:

“Being President doesn’t change who you are—it reveals who you are.” —Democratic National Convention, 2012

By , January 
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25 BOOKS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE

New Year’s resolutions are still in flux. Now is the time to start thinking about who you want to be in 2019 and beyond. Whether you’re looking to eat healthier, break a habit, see the world differently, or just want an amazing read, take a look at these books that will change your life.

25 Books That Will Change Your Life

HOW TO BREATHE UNDERWATER BY JULIE ORRINGER

Orringer is bound to wrap you up in the lives of her characters. This award-winning collection of short stories follows young women dealing with love, family, self-esteem, awkwardness, and everything in between. These nine mesmerizing stories are full of the hopes and failures and all the complexities that comes with youth.

EDUCATED BY TARA WESTOVER

Chances are you already heard about this current New York Times bestseller, but there was no way I could leave it out of this list. If you’re looking for a book about perseverance, Educated is it. Westover was raised in the mountains of Idaho by parents who were stockpiling canned goods in preparation for the end of the world.

Lacking in a proper education, Westover educated herself and first step foot in a classroom at 17. This memoir is a tale of education and self-motivation and guaranteed to inspire.

 

REAL AMERICAN BY JULIE LYTHCOTT-HAIMS

In her memoir, Lythcott-Harris writes about the personal battle people of color know all too well. As a biracial black women in America, Lythcott-Harris deals with racism, microaggressions, and self-esteem issues because of it. Real American is a journey of self-acceptance, and the power of the black community.

 

YOU ARE A BADASS BY JEN SINCERO

Sincero is a brash, funny, and extremely honest in You Are a Badass. In this book, she tells readers exactly what it takes to start living your awesome life.

 

CAN’T HURT ME BY DAVID GROGGINS

As a survivor of abuse, prejudice, and poverty, David Groggins is all too familiar with dark days. Still, he pushed through all the obstacles in his life and became a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. Can’t Hurt Me is about Groggins’s journey out of the darkness and how readers can tap into their inner power to persevere.

 

IF YOU LEAVE ME BY CRYSTAL HANNA KIM

I cannot say enough good things about Crystal Hanna Kim’s debut novel. If You Leave Me is set through the perspective of multiple characters dealing with the effects of the Korean War. Sixteen-year-old refugee Haemi-Lee is met with a choice that affects her widowed mother, ill brother, and the love of her life that spans over decades. This novel is so tragically beautiful. You’ll want to grab your issues for this one.

 

UNFU*K YOURSELF: GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD AND INTO YOUR LIFE BY GARY JOHN BISHOP

According to Gary Bishop, the largest barrier we face when it comes to a greater life is ourselves.This manifesto is filled with information on how to unleash the greatness that already lies within you.

 

TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS: ADVICE ON LOVE AND LIFE FROM DEAR SUGAR BY CHERYL STRAYED

What started as an anonymous online column on The Rumpus transformed into Tiny Beautiful Things. In Tiny Beautiful Things, the Wild author offers advice on everything from love and sex and everything else life throws at you.

 

JUST MERCY: A STORY OF JUSTICE AND REDEMPTION BY BRYAN STEVENSON

As a young lawyer, Bryan Stevenson founded the Equal Justice Initiative a practice designed to defend those who need it the most: the poor, women, and those who are wrongfully accused. The first case Stevenson covers is the case of Walter McMillian, a man who was sentenced to death for a murder he swears he did not commit. Just Mercy is a coming-of-age story as much as it is a story of the pursuit of justice.

 

Stunt Memoirs - Year of YesYEAR OF YES BY SHONDA RHIMES

For years, ScandalGrey’s Anatomy, and How to Get Away with Murder creator Shonda Rhimes had a hard time saying yes. With three hit TV shows and three kids, saying “no” was way easier. However, something her younger sister says makes her rethink her life and she starts saying “yes.” Shonda Rhimes’s hilarious and heartfelt account talks about how her life changed when she started to say yes and how you can too.

 

THE ANATOMY OF HOPE: HOW PEOPLE PREVAIL IN THE FACE OF ILLNESS BY JEROME GROOPMAN

Since Ancient Greece, hope has been an essential part of human life. Harvard medical professor Jerome Groopman explains how hope can change the course of an illness. This book offers a new way of thinking about hope and how it is critical to life.

 

THE ART OF ASKING: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LET PEOPLE HELP BY AMANDA PALMER

Asking for help is, for many, easier said than done. This part-manifesto, part-revelation talks about how musician Amanda Palmer starting asking the people around her for help. This book will inspire readers to challenge their ideas about asking and how it can help them.

 

THIS IS GOING TO HURT: SECRET DIARIES OF A JUNIOR DOCTOR BY ADAM KAY

From 2004 to 2010, Adam Kay kept a journal documenting his experience as a junior doctor. As a result, This is Going to Hurt tells Kay’s story about his firsthand experience and all the joy and pain that came with it.

 

BORED AND BRILLIANT: HOW SPACING OUT CAN UNLOCK YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE AND CREATIVE SELF BY MANOUSH ZOMORODI

Ever wonder how you could turn your daydreams into new projects? Bored and Brilliant connects boredom with original and creative ideas. The book is written in a series of challenges for readers that helps them rethink the way people see their devices and the the digital world.

 

big magicBIG MAGIC: CREATIVE LIVING BEYOND FEAR BY ELIZABETH GILBERT

This Eat, Pray, Love author digs deep into her creative process and offers a unique perspective about inspiration. Gilbert offers advice on empathy, fear, and everything else that generates inspiration.

 

THE POWER OF NOW: A GUIDE TO SPIRITUAL ENLIGHTENMENT BY ECKHART TOLLE

In today’s fast-paced world, a lot of people have trouble staying in the present. The Power of Now helps readers focus on who they are right now and what it means to be in the present.

 

MASTERY BY ROBERT GREENE

Becoming a “master” isn’t done over night. Greene analyzes the traits of Charles Darwin, Henry Ford, Mozart, and more, and discusses what made them successful and how you can be successful too.

 

You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson book coverYOU CAN’T TOUCH MY HAIR BY PHOEBE ROBINSON

People have called Phoebe Robinson’s taste in music “white,” she’s been followed by security officers in grocery stores, and, of course, people have asked to touch her hair. In You Can’t Touch My Hair, Robinson explains her experience with everyday micro-aggressions.

 

THE OBSTACLE IS THE WAY BY RYAN HOLIDAY

Holiday compiles a list of true stories about the how successful people have overcome obstacles. From Amelia Earhart to LL Cool J, Holiday talks about how these national names have made it past the seemingly impossible.

 

BROKEN OPEN: HOW DIFFICULT TIMES CAN HELP US GROW BY ELIZABETH LESSER

Sometimes we find ourselves at rock bottom and have trouble climbing back up. Broken Open discusses how we can manage grief and turn it into happiness.

 

BETTER THAN BEFORE BY GRETCHEN RUBIN

Want to quit sugar? Want to start eating healthier? Quit procrastinating? Better Than Before is here to help. This book is designed to help readers through their everyday challenges.

 

ATOMIC HABIT BY JAMES CLEAR

Are you struggling with a habit you just can’t seem to break? Habit formation expert James Clear offers practical strategies on how to break your bad habits and create good ones.

 

BORN A CRIME: STORIES FROM A SOUTH AFRICAN CHILDHOOD BY TREVOR NOAH

Comedian and Daily Show host Trevor Noah was literally born out of a crime. Noah comes from a white Swiss father and a Black Xhosa mother during a time when such a union was illegal. As a result, Noah spent the majority of his early years indoors with his mother hiding him from the government. Born a Crime is perfect for people who are searching for their place in the world.

 

A SUCKY LOVE STORY: OVERCOMING UNHAPPILY EVER AFTER BY BRITTANI LOUISE TAYLOR

Internet star Brittani Louise Taylor tried every online dating site before she finally met Milos. For Milos, it was love at first site, but something inside Taylor was telling her to run.

“This isn’t a love story,” Taylor writes. “It’s my story about survival.”

 

THE WITCH’S BOOK OF SELF-CARE BY ARIN MURPHY-HISCOCK

Take care of yourself the witchy way. The Witch’s Book of Self-Careoffers spells, medications, and mantras on ways to release stress, sadness, and strength.

By , January 1

7 INDIE HORROR, MYSTERY, AND CRIME NOVELS FOR MUSIC LOVERS

Nothing goes together quite as nicely as music and crime. Any bloody scene begs for a soundtrack. And while all books line up perfectly with some playlist, there are some a little more tailor-made than others. So if you prefer your literary murders with operatic accompaniment, here are 7 indie horror, mystery, and crime novels for the music lovers among us.

WE SOLD OUR SOULS

music-lovers-books-we-sold-souls

This Grady Hendrix horror novel from Quirk Books is the story of Kris Pulaski. Although a current manager of a Best Western, she served as former guitarist for the ’90s band Dürt Würk. Kris discovers that lead singer Terry didn’t just break up the promising band for a solo career. He sold all of their souls. Literally. What follows is a heavy metal power ballad of a road novel with equal parts horror and rock. Hendrix is an indie horror legend, and We Sold Our Soulsis one of his best.

 

WELCOME TO THE SHOW: 17 HORROR STORIES – ONE LEGENDARY VENUE

music-lovers-books-welcome-show

Although The Shantyman, the stories’ unifying San Francisco music venue, is fictional, the horror is real enough. On the book’s back cover, Crystal Lake Publishing warns us: “We all know the old cliché: Sex, drugs and rock and roll. Now, add demons, other dimensions, monsters, revenge, human sacrifice, and a dash of the truly inexplicable.” Detailing the strange and wonderful history of The Shantyman, Welcome to the Show’s musical references range from jazz club to rock club, with plenty in between. You’ll especially want to check out offerings from Kelli Owen (“Open Mic Night”), Matt Serafini (“Beat On the Past”), and the closer from Mary SanGiovanni (“We Sang in Darkness”).

 

GETHSEMANE BROWN MYSTERY SERIES

music-lovers-books-gethsemane-brown

From Henery Press, Alexia Gordon’s mystery series, beginning with Murder in G Major, centers around African American classical musician Gethsemane Brown. Gethsemane, in addition to being an expert violinist, is Sherlock smart and funny as hell. The cozy mysteries satisfy lovers of BBC-style whodunits as well as classical music lovers. My personal favorite has been Killing in C Sharp, where Gethsemane has to fight off a vengeful ghost. Did I mention there are supernatural elements? Yeah. These books have a lot to offer.

 

THE VINYL DETECTIVE MYSTERIES

music-lovers-books-vinyl-detective

Beginning with Written in Dead Wax, Andrew Cartmel’s series from Titan books follows a record collector with knack for tracking down rare vinyl. Luckily for the readers, he also has a way of stumbling into some fast-paced murder mysteries. Cartmel brings his experience writing for Midsomer Murders to the page, and it shows. The music is spilling off the page along with the blood and the coffee. There are cats. So many reasons to pick up this series. My favorite: The Run-Out Groove.

 

THE PLOT AGAINST HIP HOP

music-lovers-books-plot-against-hip-hop

From Akashic Books, hip hop expert Nelson George presents his parallel history of hip hop within a gritty AF Noir York City. Along the way he name drops Kanye and Jay-Z and Russell Simmons and others. The story is one of D Hunter’s search for the person who stabbed a well-respected music critic. Like good hip hop, there is social commentary and a blurring of the lines between great storytelling and all-to-real happenings. The Plot Against Hip Hop reads almost like Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice, but in the world of rap music. Brilliant prose, vast conspiracy, (at times) borderline trippy narrative. If you love crime fiction and you love hip hop, this book is a must read.

 

DIRTY BOULEVARD: CRIME FICTION INSPIRED BY THE SONGS OF LOU REED

music-lovers-books-dirty-boulevard

Edited by David James Keaton, this Down & Out Books anthology lives at the intersection of rock music and crime fiction. It features some of the heaviest hitters in the game: Reed Farrel Coleman, Gabino Iglesias, Cate Holahan, Alison Gaylin, and J. David Osborne. On the dirty, drunken streets of this book, there is all the gender-bending, rule-breaking, hard-rocking poetic pain that was Lou Reed. For me, Cate Holahan’s “Pale Blue Eyes” takes what I can only assume would be, in this case, a grimy booze-soaked blue ribbon dotted with blood.

 

TRAGEDY QUEENS: STORIES INSPIRED BY LANA DEL REY & SYLVIA PLATH

music-lovers-books-tragedy-queens

Leza Cantoral, expert anthology editor (who also did the fantastic Walk Hand In Hand Into Extinction: Stories Inspired By True Detective), curated this collection from Clash Books. Although these stories are not all exclusively crime fiction, there is more than enough to be found. Although there are some male writers involved (Gabino Iglesias shows up again), this anthology is all about female empowerment. Laura Diaz de Arce, Ashley Inguanta, Tiffany Scandal, and Monique Quintana all bring A game to this haunting volume of raw emotion.

By , November 

10 CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND OUR ENVIRONMENT

In case you haven’t heard, a climate disaster is looming. The effects of climate change—like rising seas and intensifying weather patterns—are already here. Even though the worst is yet to come, there are still things that we can do to fight for our planet. One thing you can do right now is to educate yourself by reading climate change books.

10 Climate Change Books to Help You Understand Our Environment

CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS ABOUT SCIENCE

HOT, HUNGRY PLANET: THE FIGHT TO STOP A GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS IN THE FACE OF CLIMATE CHANGE BY LISA PALMER

By the year 2050, Earth’s population will be closing in on 10 billion people. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. Journalist Lisa Palmer’s book Hot Hungry Planet digs into the possibilities of famine and food scarcity and the innovations that might save us all from hunger.

sixth-extinction-coverTHE SIXTH EXTINCTION: AN UNNATURAL HISTORY BY ELIZABETH KOLBERT

What will the future look like? The past may have a clue. Over the ages of our planet’s history, there have been five mass extinction events, one of which all but wiped out the dinosaurs. In the Anthropocene period, the next casualty may be us. In The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert takes a closer look at the past to tell us more about our future.

 

CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS ABOUT HEALTH

FEVERED: WHY A HOTTER PLANET WILL HURT OUR HEALTH—AND HOW WE CAN SAVE OURSELVES BY LINDA MARSA

We’re getting more used seeing images of stranded polar bears and hearing about our dwindling bee population, but most reporting on climate change leaves out what it can do to our own health. Linda Marsa’s Fevered delves into the increasing rate of illnesses associated with global warming, like asthma, allergies, and mosquito-borne diseases, just to name a few.

THE GREAT DERANGEMENT: CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE UNTHINKABLE BY AMITAV GHOSH

The past few generations have taken advantage of the planet, polluting the oceans, ravaging the land, and filling our skies with smoke. What were we thinking? In The Great Derangement, Amitav Ghosh argues that we weren’t, we have been deliberately blind to the disasters looming in our future—until now.

 

CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS ABOUT PEOPLE

PLASTIC: A TOXIC LOVE STORY BY SUSAN FREINKEL

One of the scariest things about plastic is that it’s kind of immortal. It can churn in the ocean for hundreds of years before it finally breaks down. Humans fell in love with this toxic material in 1950s, and since then, it has managed to work its way into almost everything we touch. Susan Freinkel recounts this love story in Plastic by digging deeper into the ways plastic affects our lives and the life of the planet.

STAYING ALIVE: WOMEN, ECOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENTStaying Alive: Women, Ecology and Development book cover BY VANDANA SHIVA

Originally published in 1988, activist Vandana Shiva’s seminal work, Staying Alive, explores the relationship between women and our natural world. In many places, the freedom of the women is directly related to a country’s outlook. More recent research has shown that women’s rights directly impacts sustainability. You could say that Shiva is the mother of that idea.

 

CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS ABOUT POLITICS

THE MADHOUSE EFFECT: HOW CLIMATE CHANGE DENIAL IS THREATENING OUR PLANET, DESTROYING OUR POLITICS, AND DRIVING US CRAZY BY MICHAEL E. MANN AND TOM TOLES

Research has shown that climate denialists do, in fact, have brains. It’s just that they haven’t been using them. We have been manipulated, and logic has been twisted to distort the truth. In The Madhouse Effect, climate scientist Michael E. Mann comes together with cartoonist Tom Toles to create a funny, sad portrait of the mad world we’re living in.

THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING: CAPITALISM VS. THE CLIMATE BY NAOMI KLEIN

From the author of The Shock Doctrine, this book delves into the war between capitalism and the planet. In This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein argues something that many of us already know: we have to change our destructive habits that are rooted in capitalism. It may be the only way we can save our environment before it’s too late.

 

CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS ABOUT RACISM

DUMPING IN DIXIE: RACE, CLASS, AND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY BY ROBERT D. BULLARD

Not everyone will experience climate change equally. The poor and working class are already disproportionately affected by the problems of climate change. In Dumping in Dixie, Robert D. Bullard, a professor and environmental justice activist, asserts that living in a healthy environment is a right for all Americans, regardless of their race, class, or social standing.

Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential MobilityTOXIC COMMUNITIES: ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM, INDUSTRIAL POLLUTION, AND RESIDENTIAL MOBILITY BY DORCETA E. TAYLOR

For years, poor and minority communities have found themselves becoming the dumping ground for businesses hoping to get rid of waste on the path of least resistance. Shockingly, entrenched segregation and zoning laws have paved the way to make this possible, making communities of color sick for years—literally.

By , January 

8 THINGS TO DO WITH UNWANTED BOOKS

So you’ve decided to take Marie Kondo’s advice to heart and remove some of the books from your space. Congratulations! It’s a tough thing to do sometimes, we know. But now that you’ve made that decision, you might be left wondering—what do I do with unwanted books? Well, my friend, you’re in luck. I have just the list for you.

8 Things to Do with Unwanted Books

MAKE BOOK ART

You might not be the most crafty person in the world, but there are lots of crafts you can do with books you’re otherwise finished with. Try something ornate, like making a decorative birdcage out of books or go a bit easier and use book pages as the canvas for your latest print or drawing.

MAKE A SECRET BOX

You might have sensitive documents or meaningful trinkets lying around and while we can’t all have a secret room hidden by a bookcase, we can pretty much all have secret boxes that look like books—and were, in a former life—to hide small items in. (Alternatively, switch out the traditional ring box with a book box for a proposal to show your potential future spouse you get them.)

DONATE THEM

Libraries, prisons, shelters, schools, and certainly other places are often in need of books. Be sure they’re in good condition and not too outdated for maximum helpfulness! Otherwise, you’re just asking someone else to do the work of chucking them in the recycling bin for you.

REGIFT THEM

Just because a book was no good for you doesn’t mean it’s not right for someone else. As long as the book is in good condition and you’re also giving it in good faith—not just to get rid of something—there’s nothing wrong with giving it as a gift.

BRING THEM TO A LITTLE FREE LIBRARY

Almost like regifting, there’s also the option of bringing unwanted books to your nearest Little Free Library. It’s a great way to get to know your neighborhood (and maybe meet your neighbors) while potentially even scoring some new books for yourself. Win-win! You can find official Little Free Libraries near you using their map tool. Meanwhile, you might also find similar, unofficial setups near your home just by going on a walk.

USE THEM AS A DOORSTOP

There’s a reason we call big books doorstops. And why not put something big and beautiful to use? It can be both an artful addition to your home and functional. Plus, imagine the conversations you’ll have in your home when others see it. “So, did you actually read War and Peace?” It’s only a hop to the woes of climate change from there—after all, you did reuse and recycle, thus avoiding more plastic packaging from an item actually meant to be a doorstop.

MAKE FURNITURE FROM THEM

Akin to crafting with books, why not make furniture of them? They’re already piled up around your home, and if you arrange them just so with a little added glue and maybe some additional wooden support, you’ve got yourself a new end table. More recycling—yay!

START A BOOK EXCHANGE AT YOUR WORKPLACE OR ELSEWHERE

Everyone likes free stuff! My library does an annual event around Valentine’s Day involving the exchange of romance novels and cupcakes. Why not encourage your coworkers or other groups you see regularly to do something similar? Do it in one big event where everyone gets a ticket for every book they take in to represent the number of books they can take out if you want to be exact about it or set up a system more like a Little Free Library in your break room. One person’s unwanted book is another person’s next great read!

What other ideas do you have for things to do with unwanted books? Tell us in the comments!

By , January 

 

5 SLIGHTLY RIDICULOUS UNSOLVED MYSTERIES OF THE HARRY POTTER SERIES

I have started rereading the Harry Potter books to help me get to sleep at night, since I know them well enough that I don’t feel like I’m missing anything when I fall asleep halfway through a chapter and need to find my place again. As a result, I have come across a number of tiny mysteries that were (gasp!) never addressed by Pottermore and I thought they were just, well, nice and comforting in light of the various larger inconsistencies in The Crimes of Grindelwald. I anticipate that I will find more of these as I move forward through the series. For the record, I will be leaving out anything about the mechanics of time travel via Time Turner because that just hurts my brain, and any thoughts about the mechanics of Hagrid’s conception because there are some things that really ought to stay mysteries.

1. THE WAND CHOOSES THE WIZARD (WITH SOME EXCEPTIONS)

Some people who are better at math than me figured out that, given the price of the materials (unicorn hair, phoenix tail feather, etc.) that go into each wand, Ollivander probably sells them at a loss. Even so, wands are among the most pricey of school supplies. However, since wizards get worse results when using someone else’s wand, it does not seem to me to be the best area to economize when buying school supplies for your eleven-year-old. I understand why Ron ended up with Charlie’s old wand given how many Weasley children there are, but Neville, who presumably had at least some money left to him by his parents, also used his father’s old wand for the first five books and that didn’t always go well for him. The poor kid already had the cards stacked against him, why not get him his own wand?

 

2. DUMBLEDORE’S SCAR

In the very first book, Dumbledore tells Hagrid and McGonagall that he has a scar on his left knee that is a perfect map of the London Underground and that scars can be useful—how so, Albus? Do you think he’s just going to strip in the middle of a chase scene in the Underground in the next Fantastic Beasts movie? Maybe that’s when he decides to switch to velvet robes instead of those smart suits.

 

3. QUIRRELL’S TURBAN

I asked a while back on Twitter why Quirrell’s students thought the turban smelled like it was stuffed with garlic when it was actually stuffed with Voldemort’s face. One suggestion was that it was just the stench of evil. It’s hard to brush teeth on the back of your head, someone else said.

 

4. WHERE DO THE ANIMALS FOR TRANSFIGURATION COME FROM?

Does Professor McGonagall just order, say, a bunch of umbrella birds to be turned into umbrellas? What happens to them after class? Do they just hang out as umbrellas until the next time they’re needed? You don’t have to feed or clean up after umbrellas. (I know, let it go. It’s magic.)

 

5. HOW DID NEARLY HEADLESS NICK GET UN-PETRIFIED IF HE CAN’T EAT OR DRINK?

We know that Nick and his fellow ghosts miss being able to taste food, even though they no longer have to eat. Nick obviously couldn’t have taken the potion that was used on the Petrified students. Was the Mandrake Draught just sprayed in his general direction?

I hope I’ve given you a few things to wonder about today.

By , December 

HIGHLIGHTS OF BOOKS ENTERING THE PUBLIC DOMAIN IN 2019

Rejoice! Works created in 1923 are finally entering the public domain in 2019!

Don’t really know what that means? I didn’t either! Copyright law is weird and messy and super confusing! Smithsonian Magazine and the New York Times break it down for us:

“The sudden deluge of available works traces back to legislation Congress passed in 1998, which extended copyright protections by 20 years. The law reset the copyright term for works published from 1923 to 1977 — lengthening it from 75 years to 95 years after publication — essentially freezing their protected status. (The law is often referred to by skeptics as the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act,” since it has kept “Steamboat Willie,” the first Disney film featuring Mickey, under copyright until 2024.)”

There’s an added level of confusion that comes in when authors or publishers didn’t secure or renew copyright. Or when a new edition appears with a new copyright for an introduction or illustration. Oh, and all this applies only to American works with American copyright.

Got it?

For 20 years, we’ve been missing out on books, poems, films, songs, and articles entering the public domain. When a work is in the public domain, it’s free for use by anyone, whether it’s inspiration for song lyrics or a new, cheaper edition of a book. Or a retelling, like good ol’ Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Google Books and Kindle will be loading up with free digital editions of these books.

LibriVox, an app for free public domain audiobooks, and Serial Reader, an app that breaks public domain works into daily bite-sized chunks, also should have an exciting year ahead of them. I can’t wait to see what they do with the new collection headed their way.

So long as Disney doesn’t rewrite the law again, we will now get yearly dumps of greatness as a New Year’s present. Hooray for us!

Here are some highlights of books from 1923 entering the public domain in 2019. Synopses are from Goodreads, because I haven’t read any of these yet. Goodreads has a complete list of books entering the public domain, and Duke Law has a list of everything entering the public domain in 2019. Note: This list is very white.

 

FICTION

A Lost Lady by Willa CatherA LOST LADY BY WILLA CATHER

Marian Forrester is the symbolic flower of the Old American West. She draws her strength from that solid foundation, bringing delight and beauty to her elderly husband, to the small town of Sweet Water where they live, to the prairie land itself, and to the young narrator of her story, Neil Herbert. All are bewitched by her brilliance and grace, and all are ultimately betrayed. For Marian longs for “life on any terms,” and in fulfilling herself, she loses all she loved and all who loved her.

The Murder on the Links by Agatha ChristieTHE MURDER ON THE LINKS BY AGATHA CHRISTIE

A millionaire dies…

‘One can see by his face that he was stabbed in the back’ said Poirot.

But the strangest feature of the case was where they found the body — in an open grave!

Hercule Poirot had answered an appeal for help — but he was too late!

MURDER — bizarre and baffling — had come to the Villa Genevieve.

kangaroo by dh lawrenceKANGAROO BY D.H. LAWRENCE

Kangaroo is D. H. Lawrence’s eighth novel, set in Australia. He wrote the first draft in just forty-five days while living south of Sydney, in 1922, and revised it three months later in New Mexico. The descriptions of the country are vivid and sympathetic and the book fuses lightly disguised autobiography with an exploration of political ideas at an immensely personal level.

A Son at the Front by Edith WhartonA SON AT THE FRONT BY EDITH WHARTON

Wharton’s antiwar masterpiece probes the devastation of World War I on the home front. Interweaving her own experiences of the Great War with themes of parental and filial love, art and self-sacrifice, national loyalties and class privilege, Wharton tells an intimate and captivating story of war behind the lines.

Jacob's Room by Virginia WoolfJACOB’S ROOM BY VIRGINIA WOOLF

Virginia Woolf’s first distinguished work, Jacob’s Room is the story of a sensitive young man named Jacob Flanders. The life story, character and friends of Jacob are presented in a series for separate scenes and moments from his childhood, through college at Cambridge, love affairs in London, and travels in Greece, to his death in the war.

 

NONFICTION

The Prophet by Kahlil GibranTHE PROPHET BY KAHLIL GIBRAN

The Prophet is a collection of poetic essays that are philosophical, spiritual, and, above all, inspirational. Gibran’s musings are divided into twenty-eight chapters covering such sprawling topics as love, marriage, children, giving, eating, work, joy, and sorrow.

 

 

POETRY

Tulips and Chimneys by EE CummingsTULIPS & CHIMNEYS BY E.E. CUMMINGS

Fresh and candid, by turns earthy, tender, defiant, and romantic, Cummings’s poems celebrate the uniqueness of each individual, the need to protest the dehumanizing force of organizations, and the exuberant power of love.

 

New Hampshire by Robert FrostNEW HAMPSHIRE BY ROBERT FROST

New Hampshire features Frost’s meditations on rural life, love, and death, delivered in the voice of a soft-spoken New Englander. This compilation includes several of his best-known poems: “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” and “Fire and Ice” as well as verse based on such traditional songs as “I Will Sing You One-O.”

The Harp-Weaver and Other Poems by Edna St. Vincent MillayTHE HARP-WEAVER, AND OTHER POEMS BY EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY

Edna St. Vincent Millay burst onto the literary scene at a very young age and won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923. Her passionate lyrics and superbly crafted sonnets have thrilled generations of readers long after the notoriously bohemian lifestyle she led in Greenwich Village in the 1920s ceased to shock them. Millay’s refreshing frankness and cynicism and her ardent appetite for life still burn brightly on the page.

 

SHORT STORIES

THREE STORIES AND TEN POEMS BY ERNEST HEMINGWAY

Only 300 copies were made in the first and only printing of Hemingway’s first book. These three stories represent all that remained of Hemingway’s early work after the suitcase full of his manuscripts was stolen in the Gare de Lyon.

THE LURKING FEAR AND OTHER STORIES BY H.P. LOVECRAFT

Twelve soul-chilling stories by the master of horror will leave you shivering in your boots and afraid to go out in the night. Only H.P. Lovecraft can send your heart racing faster than it’s ever gone before.

MRS. DALLOWAY’S PARTY: A SHORT STORY SEQUENCE BY VIRGINIA WOOLF

The landmark modern novel Mrs. Dalloway creates a portrait of a single day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway as she orchestrates the last-minute details of a grand party. But before Virginia Woolf wrote this masterwork, she explored in a series of fascinating stories a similar revelry in the mental and physical excitement of a party.

CALL TO ARMS BY LU XUN

Call to Arms is a collection of revolutionary Chinese writer Lu Xun’s most famous and most important short stories. Featuring “A Madman’s Diary,” a scathing attack of traditional Confucian civilization and “The True Story of Ah Q,” a poignant satire about the hypocrisy of Chinese national character and the first work written entirely in the Chinese vernacular.

By , Janaury 3, 20